Patriots Weekend brings thousands to Minute Man NHP

Colonial and American Militia fire a commemorative salute on North Bridge

Colonial and American Militia fire a commemorative salute on North Bridge


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Patriots' Day, Patriots' Weekend, or Patriots' Weekends? It is hard to sum up Minute Man National Historical Park offerings in just a day or weekend. With the numerous activities the park schedules, it is a safe bet to cover three consecutive Saturdays worth of events and call it Patriots' Weekends. April kicks off the season with this unique Massachusetts event.

Local area towns begin to roll out their celebrations the weekend before Patriots ' Day (an official state holiday the third Monday in April). In Concord, the town turns out to celebrate the beginning of the running battle at Meriam's Corners on the east side of town. A morning parade, followed by a salute by the Concord Minutemen and an open house at the Meriam house, got the events started. Later in the afternoon, the town of Lincoln coordinates the Paul Revere capture along the Battle Road in the park. This year, a theater in the field brought back those involved in the creation of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" to life near where Revere was captured.

 April 16th kicked off an incredibly busy Saturday in the park. Beginning with Tough Ruck, hundreds of National Guard members ran and walked 26.2 miles, emulating the distance of the Boston Marathon from the North Bridge and along the Battle Road Trail. Members of Captain David Brown's Company presented a volley musket fire to the participants as they crossed over North Bridge to begin their annual ruck, which is sanctioned by the Boston Athletic Association as official marathon event.

Living history activities continued at Hartwell Tavern, Smith House and the Whittemore House. The three key features along the Battle Road were staffed by members of the Lincoln Minute Men, Guild of Historic Interpreters and park volunteers who turned out to interpret life in the 1770's to visitors. The Minute Man Visitor Center was the center of activity. Starting with activities for Junior Ranger Day, over 100 new junior rangers were sworn in throughout the day. In addition, a screening of the movie "The Midnight Ride of Me and Paul Revere" ran all weekend. The First Michigan Volunteers were on hand to perform colonial music to the amassing visitors, preparing for the afternoon tactical demonstration at the Parker's Revenge section along Battle Road.

 At 2:00 p.m., over a hundred volunteer reenactors took to the field as colonial minutemen and British Army regulars. The tactical demonstration presented visitors with the sights and sounds of what this area of the park, a third mile of the Battle Road Trail, may have been like for all involved. The "running battle" concluded as all participants returned to the field to present a "feu de joie" or fire of joy to the visitors and guests in attendance.

Sunday brought a slower pace to the weekend. An early afternoon program, "Revolutionary Dogs: Paws for the Cause," brought the dog owning community out for a fun look at dogs, history and some canine socializing. Later, that afternoon, the recent addition to the park, Barrett farm was the scene of an afternoon reenactment of the search of the Colonial Barrett's home and farm by British soldiers in 1775. Hundreds of visitors took advantage of the special event at the house, presently, only open for special events.

Monday morning brought beautiful weather for the annual commemoration at North Bridge. 8:45 a.m. may be a bit early for some, but to the thousands who came out to witness the annual commemoration, this is a sight to behold. After the tactical demonstration, the Concord Celebrations Committee invited National Park Service Northeast Regional Director Mike Caldwell to speak. Reflecting on his family ties to the area, Regional Director Caldwell expressed his sincere joy and pleasure to be involved in the 241th Anniversary of the historical event. Noting that 2016 is the Centennial year of the park service, Caldwell invited all to find their park and enjoy their national parks every day.

The annual Concord Day Parade followed remarks and Regional Director Caldwell joined park superintendent Nancy Nelson at the head of the parade which went into downtown Concord from North Bridge. The afternoon parade in Lexington had a contingent from Minute Man and Lowell National Historical Parks. Park staff and volunteers made up the two dozen strong contingent along with four vehicles representing both parks.

Tuesday, April 19th continued to reflect the celebrations surrounding Patriots Day. The annual morning salute by the Concord Minutemen and Concord Independent Battery fired 21 guns for reflection and commemorate of the event. Continuing with tradition, the Sudbury Militia arrived on schedule at North Bridge about 11:30 a. m. and fired a round to announce their arrival.

As much as you would think the park would have been able to rest on it's laurels, April's events did not end in the afternoon of April 19th. Saturday, April 23rd, the Guild of Historic Interpreters presented their semi­annual evening of theater and history. Battle Road Heroes is a special evening of presenting the stories of those who lived in 1775 and were involved in the events of 1775, either by choice or fate.

18 events, including additional area happenings, such as the Boston Marathon, make April at Minute Man National Historical Park a lively place to be. Hundreds of volunteers come together in the planning and execution of the events, ensuring nothing else like it takes place for three consecutive Saturdays. Support from area national park sites, plus area police and fire as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife rangers and State Police together allowed 10,000 plus visitors a chance to find their park.